Watson Ready to Defend Sr PGA Title

By Associated PressMay 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
PGA of AmericaROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Somewhere between the champions dinner and the 5-inch rough he encountered during his practice round at Oak Hill this week, Denis Watson came to realize how difficult a test hes facing when he defends his Senior PGA Championship title.
 
It started sinking in last night, Watson said Wednesday, a day after being one of numerous past PGA winners to be honored. I started to see that this is a big deal.
 
A bigger deal, perhaps, was the rough Watson found himself trying to hit out of along the East Courses narrow fairways. The deep grass is an indication the ever-demanding Oak Hill wont prove to be the walk in the park he thought it might have been when he first played the course two weeks earlier.
 
Two weeks ago, they said they had the rough pretty much where they wanted it. And its probably at least two to three times that, Watson said. Its a brutal test.
 
Welcome to Oak Hill, the Donald Ross-designed course that current Champions Tour money leader Bernhard Langer believes will hold up forever.
 
No matter how long the guys will hit it off the tee, it doesnt matter, said Langer, whos playing Oak Hill for the fourth time of his career. This course is very, very difficult.
 
Established at its current site in 1926, Oak Hill has hosted two PGA Championships, three U.S. Opens and the Ryder Cup in 1995. Out of the five combined majors played at Oak Hill, only 10 players have finished under par. And its a course thats earned its credentials, boasting such champions as Jack Nicklaus (1980 U.S. Open) and Lee Trevino (1968 U.S. Open).
 
Add a good chance of rain and a forecast high of 52'unseasonably cold even for upstate New York in May'for the first round Thursday, and Oak Hills 7,001-yard, par-70 tight and well-protected course could prove to be an even nastier challenge for the field of 156 competing for the $2 million purse' $360,000 goes to the winner.
 
Langer is considered part of a group of favorites that includes Jay Haas, Tom Watson and Loren Roberts. And then theres Denis Watson, who has spent the past year quickly making up for two lost decades of golf.
 
A rising star on the PGA Tour in the mid-1980s, Watsons career was eclipsed for 22 years by an injury after he snagged his 9-iron on a hidden tree stump during a tournament in South Africa at the end of 1985. One operation after another failed to fix the effects of a ferocious whiplash that devastated nerves, bone, muscles and ligaments from his right hand all the way up through his shoulder and neck.
 
Though he kept playing on and off, and rarely well enough to climb onto the leaderboard, Watsons breakthrough didnt arrive until after his ninth surgery in 2006, followed by months more of rehabilitation and painful therapy.
 
The payoff finally came last year, his first on the Champions Tour when Watson achieved one of the great comebacks in sports history when he captured the Senior PGA on Kiawah Island, S.C.
 
Since then, the 52-year-old from Zimbabwe has picked up wins at the Boeing Classic in August, the AT&T Classic in March and the FedEx Kinkos Classic on May 4. Although he still has a hard time believing it all, every victory feels like a validation and hes hoping to maintain a high momentum.
 
They say if you pray for things , Watson said with a gulp of emotion. I say, just give me a chance to be there on a Sunday, I want to see if I can handle it. Golf is so much about overcoming yourself.
 
Although he needs to work constantly on his shoulders and neck because theyre never going to be 100 percent, Watson said hes playing without pain except for normal old age stuff and occasional numbness in his right pinky finger.
 
Getting a second chance has provided Watson an upbeat perspective on life and his career.
 
Its very easy to speculate, geez, if I hadnt gotten hurt, I might have won 20 times, like my friend Nick Price. I could have won the British Open. I could have won the U.S. Open, said Watson, who was a three-time PGA Tour winner in 1984 and runner-up at the 1985 U.S. Open.
 
I tend to look at the other side and say, You know, I might have had a miserable life!
 
Related Links:
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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 am

    Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


    Getty Images

    McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

    McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

    But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

    Said Harmon:

    “Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

    “This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

    McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

    “Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

    McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

    Getty Images

    How The Open cut line is determined

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

    Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

    The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    • After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

    • There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

    • There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

    The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

    Getty Images

    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)